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Ecuador sees support for OPEC climate levy plan

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Sat, 8 Dec 2012 10:41 GMT
Author: Reuters
Reuters
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By Daniel Fineren

DOHA, Dec 8 (Reuters) - Ecuador believes it has the support of Iran and Qatar for its proposal for OPEC members to pay a small levy on their oil sales to help poor countries fight global warming, the chief climate negotiator from OPEC's smallest producer said.

With pressure mounting at U.N. climate talks in Doha for rich Gulf OPEC states to do much more, setting aside a few cents on each barrel sold could help appease critics. OPEC collectively exports more than 30 million barrels a day at over ${esc.dollar}100.

"This is going to be presented as a proposal from Ecuador to the OPEC meeting in Vienna next week," said Ivonne Baki, Ecuador's chief negotiator at the talks.

"I think it's going to work, I believe that it's going to be agreed," she said in Doha on Friday.

Baki said that former Qatari energy minister and president of the Doha meeting Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah had reacted "very positively" to the idea and was planning to recommend his successor back it at the Vienna meeting on Dec. 12.

OPEC heavyweight Iran also "accepts" the concept, she said, although there is no talk yet of how big the levy would be.

"BIG DIFFERENCE"

"We are just putting on the table the idea, without saying how much. That is a decision that the member states should take once they have the meeting and they accept the proposal," Baki said in an interview.

"It doesn't have to be something big, even a few cents would make a big difference."

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa proposed a tax on oil sales in 2010 and revived the idea at a meeting of South American and Arab leaders in Peru in October.

Claudia Salerno, chief U.N. climate negotiator for Venezuela, said the world's largest oil reserves holder would consider the plan.

"I know that they made it formally and it has been taken to the agenda to be considered by the OPEC council," she said.

"Climate change is lacking in new ideas to try to solve the issue, so whatever new idea that brings hope then why not, we will think about it," she said on the sidelines of the talks. "I'm not saying we will say 'yes' but we will look at that."

Wrangling over aid from richer countries to the developing world for fighting global warming is threatening to torpedo U.N. talks among 200 nations.

The United States, Europe and other developed nations, facing economic slowdown at home, have refused to set out a timetable for a tenfold rise in aid towards a promised ${esc.dollar}100 billion a year from 2020 to help developing nations curb emissions and cope with the effects of climate change.

Despite the immense wealth of the Gulf OPEC oil producers, they are not considered to be developed countries under the U.N climate convention, so are not required to pay anything towards the U.N. "green fund". Any cash raised from the Ecuadorean plan would go into a separate pot.

(Additional reporting by Benjamin Garside; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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